What compels someone to become a photographer? And what drives someone to continue to be one, for as many as seven decades? How does a veteran photographer describe years of questioning politics, personal experience, social unrest, landscape, and history through the camera?
I bought this photograph from the photographer Michael Johnson, who was selling his work on the street in San Francisco sometime in the early 2000S, a period when I was spending a lot of time in the Bay Area researching my book on Dorothea Lange.
Justine Kurland is a photographer of the road. Since the early 2000s, she has regularly crisscrossed the United States, frequently with her young son in tow, making pictures of traveling hippies, train hoppers, mothers and their children, car mechanics, and many others seeking their personal utopias.
In this regular column, Dyer considers how a range of figures have been photographed. Here, he reflects on images of Susan Sontag and the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky to ask: What, if anything, do author photos reveal about their subjects?
Author photos are one of the few areas of portraiture where your appearance doesn’t matter. Your looks might make you easier to promote. You might attract more coverage, might receive more invitations to appear on TV, and the sum total of this varied media interest might lead to increased opportunities to hustle your wares, but the quality of these wares has nothing to do with how you look.
A look at the catalog that accompanied a onetime photography-only biennial
In 1979, Venice discovered photography— then turned its back on the medium. In a possible attempt to expand the Venice Biennale brand, the municipality, assisted financially by UNESCO and programmatically by the International Center of Photography, installed one of the largest photography exhibitions ever mounted in Europe.
When writer Aaron Schuman first arrived at William Klein’s apartment, five stories above Paris’s rue de Médicis, he was ushered into Klein’s living room by his assistant. Klein, eighty-seven, had been up until four thirty in the morning the night before and was having a rest.
Prankster, performer, and self-taught photographer Boris Mikhailov might be said to embody the archetype of the holy fool—that idea originating in the Russian Orthodox Church and carrying into literature in which someone pretends to be mad in order to offer spiritual guidance.
“I was interested in everything: the portrait of a person, of a house, of a wall.... Nothing was unimportant; everything was worthy of attention,” Guido Guidi says in these pages. Guidi was born in 1941, near Cesena, in Northern Italy, and since the 1960s has recorded quiet scenes in the Italian countryside and other parts of Europe, rendering rural towns, marginal landscapes, and lone figures in his signature soft palette.
Solomon’s photographic career has been defined by an itch for travel and a desire to use the camera as a means of self-discovery, or, as she puts it, as a way of “talking to myself.” A student of photographer Lisette Model, who was known for her confrontational images of New York City’s street life, Solomon, over many decades, has photographed extensively in South and Central America, India, and Poland—as well as in places closer to home, like New York and the American South.
Born in 1942, Bertien van Manen began her career in the 1970s as a fashion photographer. Commercial photography, however, soon left her wanting and unfulfilled; like many photographers of her generation, inspired by Robert Frank’s The Americans (1958), she subsequently shifted toward an expressive and intimate documentary approach.
"Too much in photography is shoot and leave,” Bruce Davidson says in his conversation with curator Charlotte Cotton. Indeed, Davidson is often intent on looking back—not out of nostalgia for the past but rather to follow the course of his subjects’ lives.
“Events in themselves are not so much interesting to me as the conditions that led to the events,” David Goldblatt says to interviewer Jonathan Cane. While other photographers have focused on the turmoil of South Africa’s colonial and apartheid years, Goldblatt, who is now eighty-four, tends to train his lens on quieter subjects emblematic of the prevailing social order.
Through her images of subjects ranging from the American Occupation of Japan and the bombing of Hiroshima, to women’s scarred bodies and her mother’s and Frida Kahlo’s personal effects, Ishiuchi Miyako, born in 1947, has explored the passage of time and history.
Although Paolo Gasparini was born in Italy, Venezuela is his adopted home. He has spent his life documenting the cities and people of Latin America, south of “the northern imperialist,” as he refers to the United States in the following interview.
“Can a photograph have the significance of art?” This question has vexed the medium since its inception, and in 1922, the experimental arts journal Manuscripts (MSS) asked its contributors to offer their thoughts on the matter. They included the painters Charles Demuth and Arthur Dove, Marcel Duchamp, Sherwood Anderson, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Charles Chaplin, among others.